Üllr himself made a feisty appearance at Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s opening day, but so far he hasn’t followed through with the fluffy white stuff. That’s not stopping the ski resort, which opened the Teocalli Lift on Tuesday, November 27, and immediately started blowing snow on Ruby Chief. Paradise Lift is slated to open this Saturday, with the restaurant in Paradise Warming House scheduled to open December 10.
Erica Reiter, CBMR public relations and communications manager, says the resort is reporting an average base of 18 inches and will shoot for the same on Paradise to maintain quality. That’s good news for local skiers who are itching for winter in the face of a 10-day forecast that calls for highs in the 40s and upper 30s. Yet even with the brown hills, Reiter says opening day went well. “We saw a few fewer people than last year, but overall our thoughts are we’re never going to get 10,000 skiers—we’re just looking for great animation to give people a reason for people to come up. Sunny weather does help with that, and we had a good Thanksgiving weekend with about 25 percent booked in lodging.” That’s a little bit better than normal for bookings that time of year, and Reiter suspects the difference in skier visits comes from fewer local skiers heading to the slopes. Looking ahead toward the holidays, Reiter says the numbers are looking good for Christmas vacation but early December is slow. That echoes what airline consultant Kent Myers is hearing from airlines serving Colorado ski resorts in general. “The airlines are seeing softness in December across the board,” Myers said. “It’s a little challenging this year especially in Colorado because people, in my opinion, are a little skittish about the snow.” Reiter thinks the timing of the holidays could play a roll as well. “It may be slightly tied to snow, and there are definitely people waiting it out, but where the holiday falls this year is tricky and when the kids are out of school. A lot of [travel] is pushed into January,” she said. Reiter says the resort expects room nights in December to be about flat to last year, and room nights in January are up about 9 percent. Jeff Moffett, director of Crested Butte Vacations, said airlines flying into the Gunnison Crested Butte airport are down about 500 seats in December, primarily in the flights originating in Denver. Both Reiter and Moffett said they were encouraged by CBMR’s Cyber Monday sale, which for the first time ever included a complete package fly/ski/stay package starting at $649. According to Moffett, phones were ringing off the hook.